Enjoying the Moment

{josquote}The other Baha'is in the area went on and on about the core activities, but experience showed that nobody just came to them, except a few Baha'is.{/josquote}

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you are probably aware that I was asked to serve at the University of Victoria in their Multifaith Chaplaincy office. And while the official title is that of "Chaplain", which makes me both cringe and laugh at the thought of a "Baha'i Chaplain", I think of myself, and refer to myself as a "Baha'i Adviser".

{josquote}It's not that people weren't invited, but just that they weren't interested.{/josquote}

Recap: Please feel free to skip this paragraph if you know the story. I had wondered what it was that I was supposed to do in this capacity of adviser. The previous advisers were not much help. I mean, they shared what they tried, but they hadn't met with much success, and so I had to look for new ways of trying things. The other Baha'is in the area went on and on about the core activities, but experience showed that nobody just came to them, except a few Baha'is. It's not that people weren't invited, but just that they weren't interested. So I took the radical step of talking to the students themselves. They said they wanted meditation. Thus began Meditation 101, a simple meeting in which we explore a different style of meditation each week. Oh, and this has led to a number of people asking about devotional gatherings, since I always mention that prayer and meditation are two aspects of that conversation with our Creator. By the way, out of the entire group of people who have come to this workshop, only 2 of the 30 or so were Baha'i. Recap done.

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IPG Ween

Boy praying

Every year, the world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day. Being a day that is widely acceptable to solicit and knock on doors, God inspired us to encourage Christians to use this day as an opportunity to spread the gospel. The days of hiding are over and we choose to take a stand for Jesus. “Evil prevails when good people do nothing”. JesusWeen is expected to become the most effective Christian outreach day ever and that is why we also call it “World Evangelism Day”.

Source: Jesus Ween!

Only 15 more sleeps until Jesus Ween (aka Halloween). What a perfect occasion for an Intensive Programme of Growth Ween. The JesusWeeners are so right – this is the one day of the year when it is perfectly acceptable to go door-to-door. I can’t wait to go out trick-or-treating, armed only with Anna’s Presentation!

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Songs for children's classes - The Covenant

The Blessed Beauty said
There was a wisdom in His Coming
And yet there was another
Greater wisdom in his going
We grieved when He was gone
How many Baha'is felt lost and forlorn
But read the Book of 'Ahd
You will be awed by the Mystery of God

'Abdu'l-Baha, 'Abdu'l-Baha
Sheltering Branch from this Ancient Root
He was the Sole Interpreter
Now that we know it, we must obey it
The binding Covenant
A token of grace from Baha'u'llah
Did ye but know it, friend
It's like an ocean to thirsty men

The chord of unity
Flows through Shoghi, Shoghi Effendi
Grandson of the Master
Shoghi Effendi was a true brother
Upon the foundations he laid
The Divine Edifice was raised
He appealed to you and me
To stay in line with the House Divine
Please stay in line with the House Divine

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New children’s class materials embraced in Reno

A neighborhood children’s class in northern Reno, Nevada, that “has been going on for years and has not expanded,” says Renée Jaenicke, is making a special effort to introduce itself to more neighbors and also begin a study circle and devotional gathering for participants’ parents.

That’s one of several outcomes after just two meetings of a study circle in Reno, Nevada, aimed at bringing newly released Ruhi materials to teachers of neighborhood children’s classes.

The National Spiritual Assembly announced July 31 that 24 lessons are now included in an updated Book 3, the Ruhi Institute course that trains those wishing to teach spiritual education to children in Grade 1.

{josquote}Participants reflected that by acting and then, after reflection, modifying their approach to classes, they in effect will be including children in the process of refinement.{/josquote}

In addition, 21 lessons have been prepared for Grade 2 and 24 lessons for Grade 3, each level building on the one below it.

Eventually, says the National Assembly, courses will cover all grades leading up to when, usually at age 11, children join a junior youth group that focuses on spiritual empowerment through service and group activities.

Teachers of the northern Reno children’s class had met to discuss curriculum for the coming school year, says Jaenicke. “The hostess was going to put together her own materials.”

Then one of the teachers came to the study circle and immediately contacted the others, starting a chain reaction that resulted in plans to expand the class’s reach.

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Deconstructing the self-licking ice cream cone

David Postman

Here are a few definitions:

  • self-licking ice cream cone n. a process, department, institution, or other thing that offers few benefits and exists primarily to justify or perpetuate its own existence. Also in the form self-licking lollipop.
  • A phrase not widely used (Google finds a mere 927 references), a "self-licking ice cream cone" is something that is very clever but entirely self serving and essentially useless.
  • A metaphor to describe an entity that exists only for its own benefit. A quick web search seems to show this phrase is commonly used by policy wonks and pundits to describe government institutions. In his article "The Intelligence Gap: How the digital age left our spies out in the cold"1, Seymour M. Hersh wrote this about the NSA: "One former official described the civilian leadership as 'a self-licking ice-cream cone', with little tolerance for dissent or information it did not wish to hear."

    The New Yorker, December 6, 1999, pp. 58-76.

  • "Self-licking ice cream cone" is the descriptor for a self-fulfilling prophecy as described by the 20th century sociologist Robert K. Merton: "The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true."
  • The military-industrial complex is a political economy with a big P and a little E. It's very political in nature. Economic decisions, which should prevail in a normal market system, don't prevail in the Pentagon, or in the military-industrial complex.

    So what we have is a system that essentially rewards its senior players. It's a self ... what we call it, we have a term for it, it's a self-licking ice cream cone. We basically take care of ourselves. And that's why we have the metaphor that it's Versailles on the Potomac. It is basically self-referencing.

  • Apologies to Mr. Robert Kaplan, as I am borrowing the above term from an article he wrote a few years ago following a visit to Afghanistan. When Mr. Kaplan referred to the "self-licking ice cream cone", he was specifically referring to Bagram Air Field, which by that time had become swollen with various Army and Air Force support personnel who seemed to have no real impact on the war effort. They basically existed to justify their own existence.

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